Alienware Laptop Issues

I have a friend named Marcus who’s a fantastic system admin for Windows systems.

He’s very much into gaming and purchased an Alienware laptop. These are supposed to be top of the line machines that are also aesthetically beautiful, too.

However, he’s had nothing but problems with it. Most of them related with overheating, including the fact it caught fire.  And while his extended warranty was in place, it’s spent more time in the shop than playing games.  And when it was playing games, they crashed and blue screens.

Being a Windows expert who handles hundreds of systems and corporately manages the master images for companies, he got frustrated enough to dig under the hood …and he found some surprising results.

As he was recounting them over dinner, I mentioned that he really ought to document them in a blog somewhere for the universe to benefit from.  This morning he sent me an email with many of the details, of which I’ll paraphrase:

The source of is reliability errors came from the fact that DirectX was malfunctioning.  He found a log file stating that Alienware had installed the Japanese version on his machine.  This explains why updates were so slow, they weren’t going to US based servers!  He also discovered, thank you Microsoft, that you can’t uninstall this feature.

Using the same machine he wiped the hard drive, installed his own copy of the operating system and software, using nothing provided by Alienware.  The machine worked perfectly.  Or, well, it did until he discovered the machine would reboot just by selecting another display resolution.  Apparently if the external screen’s resolution was set higher than the built in LCD, it would crash.  Thus, it would work, but just in a lower resolution. However a few hours later it shut off and just went dead.

Using Google, Marcus discovered that David P. Meyer is starting a class action lawsuit against Alienware Notebook Systems starting at $260 million.  With a handful of repair orders and original receipts, Marcus is joining in, as anyone who’s had to take their machine to the shop, even ones, is eligible for a complete refund.

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24 Responses to Alienware Laptop Issues

  1. Peabodyfunkwyler says:

    out of the box the laptop was defective. USB drivers were not installed properly, kept getting raid error messages. Upon shutdown it would randomly emit a beep code. I spent over 12hrs with tech support who had me dissect the laptop and perform various test. Some problems fixed but for the most part still did not work properly. A technician at Alienware referred me to a utility to test the heat of the CPU (fx 60 dual core) and found it to be running at 80 degrees Celsius . After referring to AMD’s website for optimal operating temperatures. I discovered that anything above 70 degrees Celsius voids the warranty of the chip and causes great damage to silicon threads in the CPU (fx 60 dual core). Alienwares website also post those temperatures to be damaging for the the CPU (fx 60 dual core). The video card (Quadro FX GO 1400) runs extremely hot too. Causing the Audigy ZS sound card to overheat and perform irregularly. We have contacted then and asked for a replacement laptop and was told that was not a option. We then asked for refund and were told that was not a option. Alienware the sent out a technician to address the heating problem he applied thermal gel and reseated the CPU it ran cooler than before but still above what AMD recommends for the CPU (fx 60 dual core) the work order he wrote up stated that the system was beyond repair and should be replaced. We then called Alieware to speak with them about the findings. The Customer support and tech support said the only option we had was to send it to them. But the were no guarantees that they would replace the CPU (fx 60 dual core) which is my main concern due to the fact tha it was running at damaging temperatures for excess of 2 weeks. We would appreciate any help in thus matter

  2. While I don’t know if it will help, see the other Alientware post, where a friend figures out Alienware is using bad drivers and has a physical switch set wrong.

    To date, I have not heard of Alienware giving a refund or replacing a machine with a different kind — so in that point, their customer service sounds pretty bad.

    They do, however, seem to be willing to have the machine make multiple visits to their repair shop — however it’s also fairly clear this doesn’t solve the problem.

    I’ve heard that what used to be a cutting edge process for assembling machines has now degraded to supposed sweat-shop like images of people who don’t even know what a video card is assembling the machines by following picture instructions.

    Note I have nothing to do with Alienware, and have simply been following the problems of technically savvy customers that are voicing their experiences. Obviously my personal interest in obtaining an Alienware machine is now zero.

    I suspect the class action lawsuit will be as close as you get to a lemon law. Good luck.

  3. A new data point appeared that purchasers of Alienware equipment should be aware of.

    This original post was made back in March 2006, and it reflected recently past events.

    Here it is in June 2007, more than a year later, and other people are having the same problems with Alienware.

    Point being, it isn’t a one off, it’s a trend.

  4. Darami says:

    I should start by saying I know very little about computers – relatively speaking.
    I am so upset that I did not see all of this BEFORE recently buying a refurbished Alienware Aurora m7700 notebook with the NVIDIA 6800FXGO ULTRA 256MB, which I keep googling for updated drivers since my video card blew up less than a month after I bought the system in July 07. I have spent about 16 hours troubleshooting for the last week on the phone with Alienware tech support, knowing full well I had a video card issue after getting a driver error out of nowhere while in the middle of playing WOW. I noticed A LOT of heat, also. When I mentioned this to tech support as possibly why the driver error and subsequent video card blow up occurred, they skated right over it and sent me straight into taking out the video card, which fell into three pieces as I gently lifted it out. So, they have now sent me a new video card, free of charge as long as they get the fedex package I sent today in 5 days. (I will really be pissed if they try something shady with that whole thing.) This entire experience has made me very frustrated, and now I am too nervous to even try putting the new card in. My old HP desktop has been running WOW wonderfully forever and this new fracking Alienware could not even take it for a month. I am so over this and now reading all I have read since, I will NEVER buy an ALIENWARE system again, regardless of however long my newb self can make this thing last (which I hope is at least long enough for me to make back the money I spent! Thank god I bought refurbished at $1300 and don’t have more money involved!) I bought this notebook JUST to play WOW on the road, and from what I am reading in other posts, playing WOW is what caused many a machine like mine to do what mine did! UURGH!! I am so mad at myself for being stupid and being drawn in by the whole ALIENWARE gaming hype. Lesson learned: google ANYTHING you are going to buy BEFORE you buy it! I trusted the name ALIENWARE and so far it seems I was duped!
    P.S. I have no idea what to do either because I know next to nothing about clocking, heat sinks, drivers and INFs, etc. I have been reading posts and blogs about the same problem I just had for about 10 hours overall and I keep finding more and more! Type in NVIDIA 6800 FXGO ULTRA driver in google and it pulls up multiple articles describing the EXACT same issue I just had with my notebook! Absolutely absurd!

  5. Anti-Alienware says:

    Oestreicher v. Alienware Corporation

    It’s class action but apparently only for California residents at this time. Join us do!

  6. Jon says:

    Hello all, I also have had nothing but problems ever since getting my Alienware laptop, it not only crashes if I attempt to watch any type of video, but it will also crash if I even do a system check by the vista os. I have called Alienware at least 3 times this past year, my warranty has just ended and I still have this problem. I brought my computer to firedog and they said it was working just fine. But it still crashes anytime I try to use the nvidia graphics card. I kinda feel taken adv of seeing that I have paid an arm and a leg for 10lb electronic paper wieght. The computer itself says there is a driver error, but all the drivers I have downloaded do nothing, whether it came from alienware or nvidia. Anyone else have the problem, anyone know what and if the class action lawsuit has started?

  7. Jeff Hamm says:

    Hi i have had nothing but problems with my Aurora M7900 laptop. I get crap framerates in WOW and its hardly playable. I’m not sure what normal temps are for my system but i have seen CPU temps as high as 85 C. This computer is a bust. Lawsuit in New Hampshire anyone?

  8. Guy Mulloy says:

    Hi everyone i bought my alienware $2800 dollar paper weight December 2006 . l bought this laptop because i was under the impression that alienware was the best. When i took my computer out of the box it wouldnt even start. I called Tech support and they had me blow on a bunch of parts. It did start up after that but crapped out on me after 2 hours out of the box. I called Tech support again and they had me blow on the computer again. this time wouldnt even start up. I sent it back to them for repairs. I was very upset due to me having to report to work in a couple of days ( i work for a comericial fishing company) So i would be with out a computer for about 4-5 months. Tech support tells me the mother board and ram was fried.
    When I get home my computer is waiting for me . Since i had a desktop i just checked to see if it would turn on and it did. So I take it with me on a 30day vacation in thailand. will when i get to thailand i turn it on after an hour it shuts down and wont turn on . when I got back to the USA i send it back. this time i go 3 months with out a computer. Tech support tells me basicly the same thing ( i had fried components.)
    After working for 3 months i voulenteer to pick up some extra seatime so i had my dad drop my laptop off in seattle so i could finally take it with me to work . this was the main purpose for this purchase . believe it or not it lasted for 8 weeks before it crapped out on me . I ran the laptop for about 2 hours a day watching movies . sent laptop back . I was going to be heading back to thaiand for a 3 month vacation before i could get my computer back.when i get home computer is waiting for me . I install call of duty 4 and start downloading movies to take with me . the computer craps out on me again a day before i leave for work. so i send the laptop back again . This time i tell them I either want alienware to either fix this computer right or replace it or a refund. They opted to fix it with a supervisor over seeing the repairs. so i go almost 5 months without the laptop. I was told by tech support fried components
    The Same thing , I get home laptop is waiting for me. I play call of duty 4 and download movies , everything is going fine . I get to thailand for some R&R and after an hour its craps out . I am so pissed I contact alienware and they do not reply by calling me or sending an email. so i place numorous calls to them. I dont know how it will turn out this time but i will keep you posted. i know the damn thing is fried again.

  9. I was reading this and fully agree with the postings, as my experience has been the same. I bought an Alienware Area 51 D9T off eBay (stupid me)… I loved the machine when I received it. That was short-lived as 30 – 45 days later, the machine crashed.

    The AC adapter is receiving power and the green light lights up, but when inserted into the laptop it starts flashing. The machine will not boot or even get to the BIOS. None of the lights on the machine light up to show that it is receiving power. I’m guessing that it is either the internal power supply or a motherboard.

    I called Alienware Technical Support and they asked me for an account number (which I had on a sticker on the back) and either the name it was registered under or the e-mail account used to register (which I did not have). Upon learning that I was the second owner, they turned outright rude and told me that the warranty is not transferable and they could not even speak with me. I told them that I was not looking for warranty work and fully willing to pay; which did not change their position at all. They told me the only thing they could do is refer me to the Sales department to buy another machine.

    Not willing to give up, I called back to the Customer Support department, who gave me the same story; but were nice enough to give me 5 names, phone numbers, and web sites of aftermarket companies that work on Alienware.

    It seems to me that all Alienware wants to do is sell you a new computer via their trade-in program with no value in buying a used one. I would have thought via the Dell acquisition, there would have been an improvement in service; but no such luck. Based on the posting that I have seen all over the Internet, nothing has ever changed. They are a boutique company that has a very arrogant attitude.

    Luckily, I only paid $1,750 for the machine, but it looks like it has the potential to be a very expensive paperweight… I’m probably going to take a chance and send it to someone like WidowPC, who seems to get good reviews.

    In retrospect, I should have bought a Sager or even built my own; but I know I will never buy an Alienware again.

    Best of luck to all the other unfortunate Alienware owners…

  10. Amanda Cooper says:

    I have an “AREA-51M 7700 5.3 GREY 17″ XGA W/OUT CAM” and I am on my second graphic card (which recently fried). My warrenty JUST ended in June or July, so basically I am screwed. I’ve also had many many other problems with this notebook however this is my current problem which led me to this post. So basically I just wanted to add to the long list of disgruntled customers. Also any advice on what I should/could do would be very much appreciated as I am not very financially stable at the moment.
    Here is a screenshot of the warrenty work that I’ve had done. However there are a number of other issues with my notebook that I have not bothered to contact Alienware about because I dread the long hours spent on the phone to Tech support (Which are very hard to understand as English seems to be their 2nd language. They also seem to have a hard time understanding me too.) AND, (This is a big one) I also hate sending the notebook in because it seems to take about 2 months for every repair.

    I will bookmark this post to check for responses or I can be reached at:

    Thanks in advance to everyone reading this.

  11. Tracy says:

    I know someone who is right now preparing to get a skin graft in a couple of days due to a very large (5inx5in) 3rd degree burn on her leg because her Alienware laptop caught on fire while sitting on her lap. It’s really really bad. Her leg was actually on fire! As much pain as she’s in and what she’s going through, she’s just glad that her kids weren’t the ones playing with it at that moment.

    I guess my point is that this is so much bigger than just the equipment not working… they’re extremely dangerous!

  12. Greg says:

    I bought a alienware m7700 broke 9 months after having it. The labtop totally overheated. Alienware replaced the motherboard, videocard, hard drive. Then in june 2008 the whole computer did the same thing again. A high level gaming labtop should not do this. So my warranty was over. So I moved on and bought a dell which is good. But I did some research and discovered that this labtop was a lemon. I think I should be reinbursed or provided a working computer since the m7700 was unfixable. Alienware customer service was no help. They do not care about fixing your computer. Class Action lawsuit only way to go.

  13. Katie says:

    If you guys are still working on this, Count me in. My computer was 1 year and 8 days old when the graphics card fried. Now I am just out of luck unless I pay them another $1000 to fix it.

  14. mike says:

    I have an alienware m7700 as well.. It seemed to be working fine until I installed Call of duty 4 and played that. Since my warranty is gone the way of the buffalo (expired) i decided to pull it apart and noticed numerous burns on the motherboard. The video card is burned up and makes a loud noise (which i found was because the fan rubs against the case) good luck finding a replacement fan. Now the end is near i presume, staring at the flashing green light on my power supply when i plug it in…

  15. Adam says:

    Similar to the above posters, bought my m7700 in Dec. 2005. I’ve been through about 3 video cards and am now stuck with the same problem again after having used up my extended warranty. It boots but the screen is a mess of colors and unusuable. Overheating is to blame and a faulty design. I called to join the Class Action lawsuit today since I’m a CA resident. I hope something comes from this lawsuit as so many of us have sunk money into this faulty product. I’m $3,672+ in the hole, how about you?

  16. Brent says:

    Is anyone currently pursuing legal action against Alienware? If so I want in. My story is the same as everyone elses.

    Infact, I just recieved my computer back from a “Repair Facility.” And big shock – IT STILL DOES NOT WORK. Infact, the exact malfunction I sent it in for is still present.

    I’m considering NOT throwing it away though. My prefered course of action is to take it with me everywhere I go, set it next to me with a sign that reads in large print, “$3000 Alienware, worked for two of the three years I’ve owned it.” I travel alot and spend a LOT of time in airports. With any luck, at least I’ll save someone from making the same mistake I did…

  17. Theresa says:

    We all seem to have the same problem. One person who wrote in has it absolutely correct, a very expensive paperweight. All of our calls to support ended up with rudeness.

  18. Paul says:

    Well I brought one 3 years ago it broke down the motherboard had burnned out they replaced it now thats its out of warrety the computer shows the green lights the system won’t boot up no bios screen fans wont work nothing i’ve done everything that i can think of and this laptop ran me over 3 grand im not very happy about it. This is a gaming rig it was working great till i shut it down and went to bed one night walk up the next morning and it wouldnt boot

  19. Thank you to everyone who’s leaving posts and sending me email confirming that they too are having problems. I am getting your messages, though am unable to assist you other than confirming you are not alone.

    While this blog does engage in some serious editorial practices pertaining to which replies become public, the reason is merely so that readers can get straight to reader technical contributions and solutions without having to search for them. If your story of woe does not appear here, it’s most likely that your experience is summed up across other scenarios above.

    Do keep up the feedback and links, as it lets me know not only that this article helped them and is still applicable, but that you’d like other similar articles as well.

  20. Brandon Michael says:

    hi, ever since my 2 brothers and i got our alienware m9700 laptops. we have had nothing but problems with them. all 3 of them over heat. the screens quit working in them randomly. the video card and heat sync have been replaced, and yet still the same issues. i have contacted tech support many many times. they wont refund the laptops. i think total we paid 7500$ for all 3 laptops. honestly they are hunks of crap. as of now 2 of them do not work. i will never ever buy another alienware system.

  21. frizzanz says:

    I was given one of these “paperweights” with a challenge of getting it to work. I’ve just rebuilt the entire machine and on startup I get a gray screen. That is the ONLY time I get anything from the display. I’m up in the air at the present time about whether I want to spend the time/money to get this fixed as it sounds like everyone has reoccuring issues. I think the idea behind this giant piece of crap is awesome! HOWEVER, it doesn’t work. I hope everyone has luck with replacement machines they’ve purchased after owning a computer that will always be known as a “3k paperweight”

  22. Ivan says:

    Yes, although Alienware customer service has not been rude to me, I have had a dirt like experience with Alienware since purchasing a m-15x online in december of last year for 2,600 dollars. It was a huge waist of money which I regret every second of my life. Ever since I got it I started having AlienwareFX problems and it would shut down when it was on battery power…I sent it in and when it came back all major shutting down problems were fixed but AlienwareFX still messed up. So goes on the story and 7 trips to the repair facility and the laptop is finally working fine now but..I hear beeps from my Hard drive every now and then..and my warranty will expire in April..*sigh*.
    I would join a Class action lawsuit if I had the info.
    I live in california.
    contact me

  23. Jamey says:

    I received an m15x yesterday. With only 4 or so hours of “on” time it crashed. Blu-ray would not eject and the screen ent black with a cursor in the top left corner. I called customer support. After hours of talking and waiting with “india” accented techs, I finally was told I could have a refund. I will send it back, but a refund is not what I wanted. I spent $2400 to have a “Great” computer. Is Alienware that unreliable? I must say that customer service tried to help, but the wait times are ridiculous. I guess I will stick with my Toshiba X205.

  24. Pete says:

    i´ve had mine for three years, m9700. It started overheating after a month, so I took out the slave graphix card. That worked for a while, then it started freezing if I handled it by the far right corner. The system has been unstable since and overheats alot. I installed “mobile monitor” to control the fans, but manual control is not supported. However it did show me, that the cpu and graphix card are running at a steady 72 degrees on a desk, and overheat until it shuts down if I keep it in my lap. Looks like the bulk of the problem is the heat sink, which is one big copper pipe system. It shifts the cards around when you handle the computer, and the fans are in no way powerfull enough to keep the system cool. Guess i´m too late for the lawsuit, but I know one thing though, I´ll never buy Alienware again.

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